When I was twenty-three, I decided to return to education and get a degree. I’ve spoken about my journey to higher education in a previous post. I’m now twenty-five and halfway through the first year of my degree.
Returning to education after any extended period of time away is difficult. A lot can change in one year, let alone five, ten, or twenty years. It is an enormous decision and there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when returning to education. How will it work around your job? Your family? Will you stay in student accommodation or will you commute each day? Do you even attend a traditional university or do you go a different route? Thanks to institutions such as The Open University, it’s now possible to get a degree through distance learning. For me, one factor I had to take into consideration was age. Am I too old to go back to college? The answer will always be a resounding no.
HOW OLD IS TOO OLD?
My return to education journey first started with an Access to Higher Education course, where the ages of my classmates ranged from nineteen to thirty-nine. Other Access courses at my college had students in their forties and fifties. While my fear was not unfounded as the majority of students at college are between sixteen and eighteen, I do feel utterly ridiculous now having ever thought that I would be the oldest one at college.
University is much the same. There are students in their sixties and seventies working towards their undergraduate degrees. I even know of one of them living in student accommodation! Universities are continually accepting more and more mature students per year. So who says you’re too old? Personally, I don’t think there’s ever an age that’s too old to learn. The beauty about life is that as humans we’re constantly growing, evolving, and learning.
DON’T BE THE ONLY THING STANDING IN YOUR WAY
If you’re in a position to return to education, and it’s something you want, don’t be the only thing standing your way. So what if you’re the oldest person there. Why does it matter? What really matters is the reason you’re there. Do you want a career change? Are you doing it because you want to better support your family or you want to afford a house? Were you, like me, unable to complete your education upon leaving school? Were you not afforded the same opportunities? Do you want to prove to yourself that you’re capable? Maybe you’re doing it because you simply love to learn. Whatever your reason, it is 100% valid. How old you are should not be a factor in this decision.
It feels absolutely comical to me now that I ever thought I was too old to return to education to get a degree. I cannot believe that was what almost held me back. My college experience helped me to gain a level of independence and raised my confidence. Through college I’ve made some amazing friends. University has been… mixed. My anxiety has threatened to overwhelm me at times as I’m still working. Having to use public transport to commute to and from university and work can see me on the bus for four hours per day. But the course content is thoroughly interesting and I’ve learned heaps already just halfway through my degree. It’s not easy, but it sure is worth it.
I know that I would have regretted my decision had I decided not to return to college. If you’re holding yourself back from returning to education because you believe you’re too old, ask yourself this: will you regret not going?